Used 1998 Oldsmobile Cutlass Review

Edmunds expert review

What's new for 1998

No changes to Oldsmobile's fresh bread-and butter sedan, except for the addition of second-generation airbags.

Vehicle overview

Does anybody miss the Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera? Didn't think so. After a 15-year run that saw few modernizing modifications to the chassis and styling, the Cutlass Ciera is gone, despite the fact that the old warrior was Oldsmobile's best-selling nameplate. In its place, Oldsmobile offers the all-new Cutlass.

Cutlass comes in two flavors, both of which are worlds sweeter than the Ciera. Base models are equipped with a 160-horsepower 3.1-liter V6, antilock brakes and a smooth-shifting automatic transmission. Standard amenities include cruise control, air conditioning, battery rundown protection, rear window defogger, power door locks, fog lights, illuminated entry, tachometer, cassette stereo, remote trunk release, split-folding rear seat, tilt steering wheel and a security system. Move up to the GLS model, and you'll get alloy wheels, leather seats, remote keyless entry, variable effort steering and a host of power doodads. Missing from the standard and optional equipment lists are traction control and an integrated child safety seat.

Conservatively styled, Oldsmobile designers have slapped a full-width reflective applique across the back of the Cutlass that looks out of place on this otherwise plain but attractive sedan. Inside, passengers will find a well-designed dashboard and funky A-pillar air conditioning vents designed to increase airflow to rear seat passengers. The ignition switch is placed on the dashboard rather than the steering column, making it easier to find. Best of all, and don't clutch your chest in surprise, General Motors has found a way to put real live cruise control switches on the steering wheel spokes where they belong.

Oldsmobile claims that the Cutlass has side-impact protection that exceeds federal standards, but federal testing resulting in relatively poor side-impact crash scores. Cutlass also comes with standard antilock brakes and dual airbags. Bumpers can withstand five-mph impacts. Daytime running lights with automatic light control is also part of the package.

Rack and pinion steering is standard, and GLS models feature variable effort steering. Combined with a four-wheel independent suspension and P215/60R15 tires, the Cutlass is adequately responsive. The 3.1-liter V6 under the hood makes 160 horsepower, and moves the car to 60 mph from rest in about 8.5 seconds.

All in all, a dull but well-equipped, comfortable and competent car. The Cutlass should fit right in with the scores of Accords, Altimas and Camrys currently for sale. After offering the outdated Ciera for years, this new Cutlass is generating lots of excitement at Oldsmobile. It definitely deserves your consideration.

Edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.